Fox Orders Live Courtroom Reality Show — With a Familiar Title

'You the Jury,' hosted by Fox News' 'Justice With Judge Jeanine' talking head Jeanine Pirro, premieres April 7.
Courtesy of Fox
Fox's "You the Jury"

Fox is making its next big reality swing — and it seems slightly familiar.

The network has handed out a series order to You the Jury, an unscripted show featuring legal cases being tried in front of a live TV audience. 

What makes the news particularly interesting — odd, even — is that NBC ordered a reality show with essentially the same title over a year ago. Dick Wolf and Top Chef producers Magical Elves scored a series order for Law & Order: You the Jury in late 2015. Despite sharing a similar premise and name, the two projects have no connection. And sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that both shows were developed at roughly the same time, with Fox's being produced by Renegade 83's Jay Renfroe and David Garfinkle as well as Conrad Green. NBC's show has since gone into hibernation with an uncertain future, not that the network has any shortage of unscripted and alternative programming these days. (The series is still listed as "upcoming" on Dick Wolf's bio on the network's press site.)

Fox's You the Jury, which premieres Friday, April 7, at 9 p.m., will be hosted by Fox News' Jeanine Pirro (Justice With Judge Jeanine) and feature attorneys who have represented clients including Casey Anthony and the family of Trayvon Martin and give viewers on both coasts the opportunity to deliver the verdict in civil cases. It's fitting that Pirro be the host considering her role in the series that inspired the current renaissance of true crime television. She was a prominent voice in HBO's massive hit The Jinx. The show recounted the crimes and accused crimes of Robert Durst, culminating in real-life murder charges and his very public arrest.

Each episode will feature the show's prosecution and defense (there are six total attorneys involved; they are listed below) questioning and cross-examining witnesses as they present arguments to former California Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell. Fox notes that cases will feature topical subjects like free speech, gay rights and religious freedom, and wrongful death. Closing arguments will be presented by the plaintiff and defendant as they sit across from one another.
 
After each case is presented, East Coast and Central viewers will have five minutes to respond via text or the Fox Now app, after which "America's Verdict" will be revealed. The vote is 100 percent live and binding, Fox says. However, when the West Coast votes, if the cumulative votes (East/Central/West/Mountain combined) lead to a different verdict, the original verdict will be overturned as the final outcome of the case.
 
For her part, Pirro won an Emmy for hosting a syndicated weekday courtroom show and is a former judge and prosecutor. Cordell was the first female African-American judge in Northern California.
 
Fox's You the Jury arrives as television continues to embrace true-crime fare following the breakout success of shows like The Jinx and Netflix's Making a Murderer as well as FX's scripted anthology The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Multiple other true-crime scripted and docuseries are in the works, including more Making a Murderer.
 
The order comes only a week into Rob Wade's tenure as Fox's new reality chief. The veteran showrunner, who spent time as producer on shiny floor shows Dancing With the Stars, The X Factor and America's Got Talent, joined the network as president of alternative entertainment and specials at the top of March. He fills the vacancy left by reality godfather Mike Darnell back in 2013.
 
Fox is in desperate need of a breakout in the unscripted space. It has a substantial reality roster, most notably culinary fare from golden boy Gordon Ramsay, but it has been without a tentpole since American Idol wrapped in 2016. Every other network has at least one massive reality franchise — see NBC's The Voice and America's Got Talent, ABC's Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor and CBS' Survivor — and Fox's current reality series don't come close.

The episode order for You The Jury was not immediately available. (Watch a trailer for the series, below.)

Here are the attorneys involved:  

Charla Aldous

Founding partner of Aldous\Walker in Dallas, Aldous has tried more than 200 civil jury trials. 

Jose Baez

Baez is a trial attorney who has represented clients in criminal and civil cases including the acquittal in the Casey Anthony murder trial; Nick Gordon in the death of Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina; and victims in the Dark Knight shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. 

Mike Cavalluzzi

A certified criminal law specialist through the California State Bar, Cavalluzzi has tried more than 150 cases. He joined the Public Defender's Office and has defended clients in cases ranging from misdemeanor battery to homicide. As a member of the gay community, Cavalluzzi is also an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights.

Benjamin L. Crump

Crump has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Robbie Tolan and nine of the black women who were the victims in the Holtzclaw Oklahoma City Police rape case in 2015. 

Areva Martin

Martin founded L.A.-based civil rights firm Martin & Martin. Martin is frequently called upon to provide legal, political and social commentary to networks and syndicated television shows. She is a recurring host on The Doctors

Joe Tacopina

Tacopina leads Manhattan-based Tacopina & Seigel. A former prosecutor, Tacopina has represented clients including Alex Rodriguez, Jay Z and Don Imus. Tacopina has provided commentary for CNN, NBC, ABC, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC. 

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